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Rarely have we thought about Lakota East as being an offensive juggernaut, but the Thunderhawks changed all that in 2012 by averaging 30 points per game for the first time since 2004. By putting the ball in the end zone so frequently East found its way to the playoffs for the first time in school history.
Head coach Rick Haynes saw his boys play like men in November, knocking off previously unbeaten Springboro before eventually falling to state champion Moeller in round two. Lakota East averaged 32 points per contest in those tilts. Now they need to solve the mystery on the other side of the ball. They proved they can score with the big dogs now they have to show that they can stop them on defense.
As good as they were putting points on the board the Thunderhawks had just as much trouble stopping people down the stretch last fall. The Thunderhawks allowed four touchdowns or more five times in the last six contests. With a solid core returning on offense Haynes knows he will get a productive year from this unit. It is the other side of the ball and very “green” group that will determine if Lakota East can build upon what was started last season.
Division I, Region 2
2012 RECORD: 8-4, 5-2, GMC
COACH: Rick Haynes (15-17 @ Lakota East, three years, 15-17 overall, three years)
Bobby Brown, SR, RB – An explosive finish to 2012 saw three of Brown’s last 18 runs go for more than 35 yards and four of his final six receptions go for 25 or more. He has offers from Ohio and Kent State and finished with 948 all-purpose yards (453 rushing; 292 receiving) as he averaged 24.3 yards per reception with five touchdowns.
Jarrett LaRubbio, SR, OL – The cornerstone of the Thunderhawks’ o-line, LaRubbio was named Second-Team All-Southwest District as junior. He has verbally committed to play for the Kentucky Wildcats starting in 2014.
Ben Bostick, SR, DL –Bostick, a leader up front on defense, was in on 36 total tackles and a sack last fall.
Eric Eichler, SR, QB – Eichler was “money” last season posting 1,347 yards of total offense (703 passing; 644 rushing) and accounting for 22 touchdowns (10 passing; 12 rushing). He has 21 rushing touchdowns in his career.
Nick Gasser, SR, K – The kicker heads into his senior season with 59 career points, including hitting on 5-of-11 field goals during his career.
Nate Mays, SR, DB – The talented Mays hurt foes in all three phases of the game as a junior. He intercepted six passes, including a pick six against Lakota West. On offense he had 12 receptions for 185 yards with five touchdowns and on special teams he racked up 229 total return yards.
Shane O'Connor, JR, LB – O’Connor is the real deal. Expect a monster junior campaign from him. He tallied 36 total tackles and 2.0 sacks in 2012.
Grant Smith, JR, K – It was a night to remember for Smith, who connected on all three of his field goals including the game-winner with 0:03 left against Northmont last fall. He would end up 20-of-25 extra points and 3-of-3 on field goals for 29 points on the season.
Sam Stephenson, SR, DL – A top cog on the defensive line, Stephenson recorded 40 total tackles and 2.0 sacks with two fumble recoveries as junior.
(one appearance, 1-1) – 2012
The Thunderhawks better be able to handle speed. The 2013 docket is loaded with opponents who can fly and break things open in a hurry with their offenses. Games in Week 2 at Lancaster and home versus a very good Northmont squad in Week 3 will be crucial non-conference tilts in the battle for the playoffs while jockeying for Harbin Points. Lakota East will not face Fairfield or Mason in GMC play...FULL SCHEDULE
BIG PLAY OFFENSE
In 2012 Lakota East scored 49 offensive touchdowns and many came via the big play. The Thunderhawks ran for 18 touchdowns 13 of those were of 25 yards or longer. Eichler threw 10 touchdown passes nine of those went for 22 yards or more. In all 29 of their trips to the end zone were of 19 yards or more (63%).
--Lakota East Team Preview
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.